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22       MY COUNTRY AND MY PEOPLE

II. DEGENERATION

Degeneration is a highly misleading term, for it can only
be relative in meaning. Since the invention of the flush toilet
and the vacuum carpet cleaner, the modern man seems to
judge a man's moral standards by his cleanliness, and thinks a
dog the more highly civilized for having a weekly bath and a
winter wrapper round his belly. I have heard sympathetic
foreigners talking of Chinese farmers "living like beasts,35 whose
first step of salvation would seem to lie in a generous disin-
fection of their huts and belongings.

Yet it is not dirt but the fear of dirt which is the sign of

man's degeneration, and it is dangerous to judge a man's

physical and moral sanity by outside standards. Actually, the

European man living in overheated apartments and luxurious

cars is less fitted to survive than the Chinese farmer living in

his lowly and undisinfected hut. Nor is cruelty, natural in all

children and savages, a sign of degeneration; rather the fear

of pain and suffering is a sign of it. The dog which remembers

only to bark and not to bite, and is led through the streets as a

lady's pet, is only a degenerate wolf.   Even physical prowess

of the type of Jack Dempsey's can lay no claim to human glory

outside the ring, but rather only the power to work and to

live a happy life.  Not even a more highly developed animal

whose body is a more sensitized and complicated organism,

with greater specialized powers and more refined desires, is

necessarily a more robust or healthy animal, when life and

survival and happiness come into the question.   The real

question of physical and moral health in man as well as in

animals is how well he is able to do his work and enjoy his

life, and how fit he is yet to survive.

If one takes merely the physical evidences, one can see clear
traces of the effects of thousands of years of civilized life, Man
in China has adapted himself to a social and cultural environ-
ment that demands stamina, resistance power and negative
strength, and he has lost a great part of mental and physical
powers of conquest and adventure which characterized his
forebears in the primeval forests. The humour of the Chinese